Researchers have identified several risk factors for restless legs syndrome in patients on hemodialysis, a condition found to be highly prevalent in this patient population. In addition, the effects of restless leg syndrome on these patients were determined.

“Restless legs syndrome/Willis-Ekbom disease (RLS/WED) is a common sleep-related movement disorder,” Li-Yan Zhang, of the department of neurology at Beijing Friendship Hospital in China, and colleagues wrote. “ … RLS affects 3.5[% to] 10% of adults in the general population. A signicantly higher prevalence of RLS ranging from 12% to 62% has been reported in patients with end-stage renal disease.”

Arguing that the pathophysiology of RLS in patients on hemodialysis remains undetermined — with various studies presenting conflicting results — the researchers sought to explore risk factors and related outcomes. They recruited 354 patients on hemodialysis (mean hemodialysis duration 86 months; 26.5% with kidney transplantation failure) and diagnosed RLS with the International RLS Study Group criteria. Patients were further evaluated using the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (for “excessive daytime sleepiness”), the Hamilton Anxiety Scale, the Hamilton Depression Scale and the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Both cardiovascular (including myocardial infarction, angina pectoris, heart failure, arrythmia and hypertension) and cerebrovascular (including cerebral infarction, cerebral hemorrhage and transient ischemia attack) events were recorded during 9 months of follow-up.

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